Despite a 52-point second half, Sioux Falls’ second-highest second half total of the season, the Cougars couldn’t overcome a 18-point first half deficit as they fell 87-78 at No. 9 Minnesota State University Saturday night in Mankato, Minn. An example of their improving offense, USF recorded their third-highest scoring total of the season, however this one it didn’t end favorably.
With the loss, USF falls to 11-14 on the year, 7-14 in conference play.
A.J. Holland led three Cougars in double-digit scoring tonight. He matched a career-high with 21 points, all in the second half where he went 6-of-11 from downtown to net a career-high six 3-pointers.
Bryan Kielpinski and Robert Goffney also finished in double-figures for USF. They too did much of their damage during the Cougars push. Goffney dropped eight of his 15 points in the second half, finding six points at the line where he was perfect in the final period.
Kielpinski added 11 of his career-high 14 point performance in the second half. He finished 5-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-6 at the line. He also tied MSU’s Gage Wooten for the game’s rebounding leader with seven boards.
The first half was ugly for USF. They made just nine of the initial 28 attempts (32 percent), while the Mavericks connected on 50 percent of their shots in the opening period. MSU won the battle in the paint, 20-10, scored 10 fast break points and outrebounded USF 25-10 to claim a comfortable 44-26 advantage at the break.
However, the Cougars weren’t ready to go down without a fight. What was once a one-sided game became an even playing ground in the second half.
After trailing by as many as 25 points at the 17:30 mark of the second half, USF began to chip away at MSU’s lead.
Over a seven minute stretch (12:54-5:37), the Cougars knocked down 10-of-12 attempts, and James Rader’s layup with 5:37 to play made it a five point game, 67-62. Holland went 5-of-6 during this stretch, scoring 12 points in the process.
USF would come within four points of the home team’s lead twice, at the 3:53 and 3:29 mark, but Zach Monaghan and the Mavericks made a couple big shots and enough free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.
The Cougars shot 54 percent in the second half, however was out done by MSU who finished 48 percent from the field in-comparison to 44 percent by USF for the game.
USF tallied 10 three-pointers for the third time in five games, sixth time this season. The Cougars also took care of the ball, as they just turned it over 12 times, while forcing 16 mistakes by the Mavericks.
Free throws and rebounds, mostly in the first half, was the difference tonight. MSU outrebounded USF 40-24, making them just the second opponent in 12 games to win the battle on the glass.
The Mavericks also went 33-of-44 at the stripe, while the Cougars went 12-of-18.
USF looks to bounce back tomorrow night when they visit Concordia-St. Paul.
Courtesy: Dennis Gamble, USF